Understanding the Difference between Fillings and Crowns

by | May 12, 2021 | Resources

When it comes to fixing tooth damage or decay, there are lots of options. These options can seem overwhelming and confusing. However, treatment options are specific to different issues. Speaking to a qualified dentist can help your understanding and decision making. For damaged and decaying teeth, the two main options are crowns and fillings.

Here at Beaches Dental Mona Vale, we believe in 100% transparency. We want you to understand what treatment you are needing and why you need it so you can feel comfortable and confident in your treatment decision. In this article, we examine the difference between fillings and crowns. 

What is a Dental Crown?

To put it simply, a dental crown is a protective cap used to cover a worn, damaged or misshapen tooth. It is used to prevent any further damage and restore your smile or bite. Let’s look at some of the specific reasons for getting a crown and what the process involves: 

Problems That Dental Crowns Solve

  • Severe tooth damage 
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Cracked tooth
  • Weakened tooth
  • Discoloured tooth
  • Misaligned tooth

The Process of Getting a Crown

  1. The first step is a trip to the dentist where they will examine the issue. This will most likely include x-rays. 
  2. Your tooth is prepared and any decay removed. This is usually done under local anaesthetic. This allows room for the crown to be placed on top of your tooth. 
  3. An impression of your tooth is taken and sent to a dental lab where the crown is made. During this process, a temporary crown will be fitted. 
  4. The last step is a final trip to the dentist once the permanent crown has been made. It is affixed with a special adhesive to your tooth. Your dentist will check your bite to make sure the fit is perfect.

Downtime after a crown procedure is usually minimal. You may experience some sensitivity or inflammation; this is a normal reaction and should subside within a few days. If a local anaesthetic was used during the procedure, your mouth will stay numb for a few hours after the appointment. Ensure you avoid chewing on the inside of your cheeks and lip while you can’t feel them. You should also avoid sticky, chewy and hard foods for the first 24 hours to give the crown time to settle in. 

What is a Dental Filling?

Fillings are one of the most common dental procedures. Dentists use them to fix the effects of tooth decay, known as cavities. Cavities are holes we get in our teeth. If untreated these holes can get bigger and eventually require more invasive treatment. Getting a dental filling removes the decay from your tooth and replaces it with a filling material.

Problems that Dental Fillings Solve

  • Cavities
  • Tooth damage (with no large cracks)
  • Tooth wear
  • Minor tooth discolouration

The Process of Getting a Dental Filling

  1. Your dentist notices a cavity or minor damage that needs to be fixed during a dental visit. To fully investigate the issue, this may involve X-rays. 
  2. First, your dentist will numb the area, then remove the decay with special equipment to prepare it for filling.  
  3. The filling is put in place and set with a special light. 
  4. The last step involves polishing your tooth and checking your bite.

There is little to no downtime after a dental filling procedure. There may be a little sensitivity which should subside within a few days. Again, your mouth may feel numb for a few hours which means avoiding chewing on the insides of your cheeks and lips. Hard and chewy foods should also be avoided for the first 24hrs. 

The Key Differences Between Dental Crowns and Fillings 

So, now that we have a better understanding of the procedure and reasons for getting such treatments, let’s examine the key difference between fillings and crowns. 

  • Fillings are used to treat tooth damage and decay whereas a crown is used in more severe cases. 
  • A crown covers the entire damaged tooth, a filling leaves your natural tooth in place and simply fixes the affected area. 
  • Fillings rely on the tooth’s structure, they cannot fix a large crack. A crown can do this as it covers the whole tooth to try and hold the crack together. 
  • A crown can fix more severe discolouration and misalignment whereas a filling cannot. 
  • Crowns cost more than fillings. 
  • The process of getting a crown is longer and more involved than that of a filling. 

Wrapping Up

The difference between fillings and crowns can be summed up like this; a filling is usually your first point of call for a damaged or decayed tooth. A crown is used when the damage exceeds this and there is not enough tooth to support a filling. Both are common and useful dental procedures that offer protection. 

If you’d like to speak to one of our professional dentists at Beaches Dental Mona Vale then give us a call today. Our friendly dentists are experienced in both filling and crown procedures.